“These hands will never grasp your hands…” So go the poignant English subtitles for Japanese vocaloid and global pop star Hatsune Miku‘s ‘Until I Make U Smile,’ released as one of two 360° videos today in the lead up to her upcoming Still Be Here performance at London’s Barbican Centre on February 26.
An essay written by Matsutoya and Laurel Halo, called ‘The multiplicity of Hatsune Miku‘ is published alongside the release of the two videos, exploring the history of the dispersed avatar artist and her global impact in greater detail, following her birth by (literal) design by Crypton Future Media developers in 2007 and her growth at the hands of her fans ever since:
“She is both the receptive and reflective vessel of her fans; a depository for the emotions, ambitions and talents of would-be pop songwriters, producers and recording artists; a voice singing songs written by the masses, for the masses.”
The music of ‘Until I Make U Smile,’ along with ‘As You Wish,’ is made up of original compositions and visuals by the aforementioned group of artists but with lyrics collected from the songs of the various parallel and fan-created personalities of Hatsune Miku. That’s from the stereotypical teen girl tropes of “love, longing, cute boys, general insecurity” to the logical outcome of so much manipulation and control with “a fair amount of angst over impermanence and power imbalance within her songs.”
In advance of the next live show, you can view the two videos (above) in 360° playback or in full 3D with the appropriate headgear. The titles of these videos alone are a haunting nod to this 21st century cyber celebrity’s role as a perpetually teenaged projection of collective fantasy — alone and objectified, functional. Sourcing lyrics collected and randomised from other Hatsune Miku songs like ‘Karakuri Pierot,’ ‘Tachycardia,’ ‘Kosuro Voc@loid’ and ‘Maigo no Ribon,’ they span the decade-long life of the forever 16-years-old vocal synthesizer software and virtual idol who has become the crowd-sourced voice of an era.**
As part of a joint commission by transmediale and CTM Festival, now running in Berlin, the event explores the forever 16 virtual idol as an “allegory of the commodified female body as governed by corporate regulation and normative social behavior.”
CTM electronic music and art festival returns this year across multiple spaces in Berlin, opening January 29 and running February 6.
CTM 2016 is titled New Geographies, and in direct response to rapidly collapsing borders and hybridising topographies, as well as the backlash of tense essentialist reaction to these changes, invites more artists, contributors and voices operating in less familiar localities than ever before.
Guest curators are Rabih Beaini, for the music programme and Norient who have organised a “multi-authored” exhibition with over 250 artists working in 50 different countries with video, sound and music. Cult independent film maker Vincent Moon is opening his ‘Rituals’ installation at HAU2 on January 30 and talks led by the links of The Wire editor Emily Bick and journalist Adam Harper.
Included in the amazing line up are Hatsune Miku, and MBJ Wetware who will collaborate with JG Biberkopf, for whom aqnb has recently written a series of short texts to be read alongside his unthinkable show on NTS radio.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Zones 1 with Visionist, Thug Entrancer, J.G. Biberkopf and MBJ Wetware on February 2.
Zones III with Le1f, Aïsha Devi and Tianzhuo Chen on February 4.
Flow II with Jlin, Nkisi, Nidia Minaj and Kablam on February 4.
Steven Warwick and Anna Homler’s ‘Breadwoman‘ performance on February 5.
Zones IVwith Kassem Mosse and others on February 5.
Still Be Here with Hatsune Miku, featuring Laurel Halo, LaTurbo Avedon and others on February 5.
Grid Line with Why Be, Mum Dance and Rabit on February 6.
“Search and destroy becomes the much less culpable search, point and click”, says the New(Hu)man exhibition booklet, the visual art supplement to the Newman Festival(see photos top right), which is a three-day music and new media event, running in the Lithuanian spa town of Druskininkai from July 3 to 6.
Rivers, lakes, hills, forests; the Baltic town at the centre of an historic tug-o-war between German, Polish, Russian empires and kingdoms has long been, and continues to be a coveted hotspot for its natural resources. It was once a summer getaway for Tsar Nicholas I, now it’s a health resort for the Baltic and Eastern European elderly. There’s a Catholic Church, an Orthodox Church and an indoor ski slope called the Snow Arena, all evidence of eras laying claim to their own post in Druskininkai’s colonial history. Right now its hostels and hotels are occupied by an international array of artists, curators, musicians, producers and enthusiasts come to engage with a world wide event revolving around its Soviet Summer Amphitheatre, restored especially for the occasion.
Nguzunguzu, Dean Blunt, Lucrecia Dalt andAmnesia Scannerare a few of the overseas acts imported in an impeccable music programme curated by Lithuanian producer J.G. Biberkopf. London-based Lithuanian Ulijona Odišarija, here DJ-ing as Sweatlana, performs a mix made for Newman, the still light Friday opening slot meaning the intended projection (see video below) of hand tricks and green wheat fields plays from a laptop screen facing out to a still sparse audience. London’s Micachu & the Shapes perform, then Biberkopf himself, whose physical body dissolves into a background projection of moving images in manmade constructions, GoPro videos and footage of natural phenomena.
“I wish this bed had wings,/ I wish a lot of things”, croons Berlin-based French-Canadian Dan Bodan, holding his stomach, bent over in a Broadway-like musical delivery while dressed in sports gear and swathed with a pastel pink jumper like it’s a scarf. His soulful voice that sings of romance in the so-called Web 2.0 era is flawless, harmonising with a pre-recorded choral sample about making love long-distance in what he’s announced as a new song.
Bodan’s elegant elegies to the Network are followed by the insulated attack of Lars Holdus’ TCFsoundtrack where musical phrasing is abandoned in favour of what sounds like hundreds of sonic conversations running angrily and aimlessly at once. It evokes a similar sense of dread that Conor McGarrigle’s ‘24hr Social’ (2014), a generative video installed in a dim room of an old wooden building where the New(Hu)man exhibition is housed, does. A projection of six-second looping videos, collected six at a time, at every second of a twenty-four hour cycle, are played one on top of the other in a chaotic layering of personalised perspectives become an oppressive insight into the awful Sublime of social media.
Mitch Posada’s 3D graphic gif animations of human forms glitching out and in to a certain cyberspace play through a screen next door. It’s a perspective that shifts to the the beings those forms have made in Freyja Van Den BoomWeareautonomous’ ‘Robot Party’. The walls of a room set up like a cyberpunk campaign room, wooden chairs and tables flanked by paper printouts of code and manifestos that read “WE ARE AUTONOMOUS. WE ARE ROBOT PARTY. JOIN#03072015” are pinned to its walls.
Another room upstairs, with floorboards and windows darkened by black tarpaulin, shows shifting viewpoints as visualised by landscapes fragmented and mirroring themselves in Baden Pailthorpe’s ‘MQ-9 Reaper’ (2014). The HD video animates a silver drone that looks like it’s made from mercury, a quicksilver image of an object that refracts and is fractured by its own reflection. A sea container suspended in the sky rotates above a scene of arid mountains. A lone bald man in trousers and a work shirt punches at the air.
The heat throughout the weekend is overwhelming and the programme of conversations with artists –including Conor McGarrigle, Freyja Van Den Boom and a laptop projection of ‘artist-avatar’ Laturbo Avedon –is casual. The curator of this year’s ‘Capture All’ transmediale exhibition Robert Sakrowski and Vilnius’ Contemporary Art Centre curator Monika Lipschitz speak without microphones. Claudia Maté makes a rare in-person appearance to talk about the freedom of the personalised avatar (“we can be whoever we want to be”) and presents a work of potentially greater conceptual importance than she cares to articulate herself. ‘The globalmood’ (2014) is a visualisation of corporate equity in the stock market, represented in real-time via the reptilian faces of corresponding male avatars. Their expressions shift along a spectrum from ‘happy’ to ‘sad’ depending on their market price, but always look evil. Sakrowski makes the misguided comparison of Maté’s work to the likes of other woman artists like Amalia Ulman and Molly Soda with the rather tired trope of the ‘Young Girl’, revealing the seemingly inherent sexualisation and objectification of embodied work by women, as viewed by men.
Sakrowski’s comment comes as part of a reductive trend that echoes writer Elvia Wilk’s suggestion that “the posthuman era became a girl”. That’s especially in light of Constant Dullaart’s 2013 video essay invective against Facebook and the narcissistic tendencies social media perpetuates in ‘Crystal Pillars’. Here, the Berlin-based artist’s baffling appropriation of a feminised voice, not Dullaart’s own, delivers the personalised polemic on the “perpetual high school with ever weakening rewards” of Facebook, presented by the artist-man as woman. In the same room, Lithuanian new media and street artist AWK takes 3D scans of New(Hu)Man exhibition visitor’s body’s to be redistributed via their images on the internet.
Artist flags from the Kim Asendorfand Ole Fachconceived Long Distance Gallery are hoisted outside the New(Hu)Man exhibition building, in view of the Druskonis lake. It’s a symbol of the the ideal and idyllic location of Druskininkai, Lithuania, for a programme concerned with the Anthropocene epoch, its name taken from a direct translation of the Greek ‘ἄνθρωπος’ meaning literally ‘man’ (as in ‘human’) along with ‘new’. It’s an unavoidably gendered word that conversely does not evade the attention of Polish-born, cloud-based collective Pussykrewwhose slideshow presents a programme for the “newman / newwoman/ newkind” in work surrounding bodies reformed and rematerialised via 3D renderings and post-industrial aesthetics. It’s as if what these artists aim to achieve,Eva Papamargariti takes further by exploring what happens when and if they do. ‘No boredom, no pain, no routine’ (2014) is a video on the bottom floor of the New(hu)man exhibition, where an avatar of a CGI head on wheels guides its viewer through a digital dystopia explaining, “We just wanted to have everything.” The three-minute film runs in a loop, beginning where it ends and inescapable in its endlessness. **
SWEATLANA, ‘NEWMAN MIX’ (2015) TRACK LISTING:
‘Aussie crow aaaaaaaaaaa’ (Youtube rip) Kelly – ‘What Am I Saying (Make sense)’ Sweatlana – ‘Grandpa Breath’ ‘Field Recording Sweatlana – ‘Burnout’ Klusht Musket Dntel – ‘Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)’ Frank Ocean – ‘Pyramids’ (Sweatlana Transition edit) Capital Children’s Choir – ‘Untrust Us’ (Crystal Castles cover) James K – ‘Drunktrack’ (Florian Kupfer Remix) The Field – ‘No. No…’ Jonathan Dunn – ‘Robocop Title Theme’